Beading has been part of Charlene Holy Bear’s life since childhood. She beaded her first doll when she was five years old and has continued perfecting the art of beading ever since.
Holy Bear (Standing Rock Lakota Sioux), who is inspired by Native traditions from the Great Plains and quite often her own Lakota tradition, exhibits a selection of her beaded works, including dolls, Vans shoes, purses and jewelry, at Lyn A. Fox Fine Pueblo Pottery in a show that opens on July 20 and runs through August 17.
“I haven’t been able to make any dolls for the past four or so years, but I plan to have a doll in the show,” explains Holy Bear, who primarily grew up in northern New Mexico. “I will have several pairs of Vans shoes in the show. When Vans found out that I’ve been beading their shoes since 2013, they sent me an entire pallet of them. They’re really supportive of artists.”
In February 2018, Holy Bear discovered that a pair of her beaded Vans shoes were featured in Vogue magazine online. “I don’t know how the magazine knew about my shoes, but I suspect that Vans told them,” she adds.
Combining traditional and contemporary styles and materials is what Holy Bear strives for in her work. She prefers using traditional tanned and smoked hide with her dolls. Some of her beads are antique seed beads or ones acquired from taking apart antique purses, while others are a product of today’s craftsmen.
Regardless of whatever Holy Bear makes and whatever materials she use, color is a guiding element in the work. “I’m fascinated with color,” she says. “I love how light bounces off color. I’m always trying to find the ‘perfect’ colors.”
From 2007 through 2013, Holy Bear has won Best of Division at Santa Fe Indian Market for her beaded designs. She’s also been honored with awards from the Autry Museum of the American West and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.
Holy Bear will attend the July 20 opening and demonstrate beading techniques at Lyn Fox from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 21.